College-bound Riverside teen pulled out of chronic homelessness with help of housing program

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- The Grove Community Church in Riverside is where Jayden Yarbrough found a place to call home after months of sleeping on friend's couches, cars and, at times, in the park.

The 18-year-old high school senior says he became homeless and for while tried to make it on his own.

"I really wasn't in school too much. I was trying to find a job or I was working, but trying to find another job because I knew one would not sustain me," said Yarbrough.

But after months of struggling to the point he was about to drop out of high school, he turned to a teacher for help.

"I said 'I don't want this to be my situation anymore'," he recalled.

This past January, he was placed into the first-of-its-kind program that provides temporary housing and wrap around service through the church.

"If homelessness is a community challenge then we need to respond as a community," said Luke Villalobos, assistant to Riverside's mayor.

The church built four small homes on its sprawling campus in partnership with the City of Riverside to address chronic homelessness. It's part of an effort spearheaded by City of Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey.

"Mayor Bailey at a faith summit was talking about housing that we can build and Pastor Tom Lance stepped up and said, 'I want to do this. I want to build housing on my campus,' " said Villalobos.

With guidance, therapy, and life skill lessons Yarbrough was able to find a measure of stability and normalcy.

"We all told Jayden, 'We just want you to be a high school senior. We want you to do the prom and all the senior activities and not worry about food, not worry about where you are going to live tonight'," Associate Pastor Andy Gibeault with the Grove Community Church.

Yarbrough was able to finish high school and graduate with his class. This fall he'll be entering college where he plans to major in English.

"This was like getting the train back on the rails," said Yarbrough.
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